Asparagus Two Ways

By Diane Driscoll April 23, 2013 10:04 AM
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Asparagus Two Ways

Pan Roasted & Shaved Asparagus Salad

Asparagus was a vegetable I didn’t love as a child, but all that turned around when I went to Craft, Tom Colicchio’s Los Angeles restaurant, and tasted it in season and done extremely well. Many people blanch or steam asparagus, but I find that the flavor leaks out. Roasting or grilling asparagus brings out that nutty, delicate flavor that I crave all through spring, peak season for this vegetable.

When buying asparagus, look for for places that store them vertically or even in ice water stem side down. You also want stalks that are firm and tips that are tight and smooth. For the salad look purchase the thicker stalks and toss the that outer layer as it’s a little tough. For the roasted, go with thinner stalks.

For the salad, you want to make this at least an hour ahead of serving as the vinegar will “cook” or tenderize the asparagus and the flavors can marry together.  What am I serving this with tomorrow night? One of my favorite, easy fish recipes–Citrus Tilapia and rice.

Shaved Asparagus Salad

Finely grated zest of 1/2 medium lemon
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 1/2 lemon)
2 teaspoons champagne vinegar
2 tablespoons minced shallot (from about 1 medium)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons pine nuts
1 pound thick asparagus spears, tough bottoms removed
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup packed shaved Parmesan cheese (about 1 1/2 ounces)
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  1. Combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, vinegar, shallot, and a pinch each of salt and pepper in a small bowl. Let sit for 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts in a medium frying pan over medium heat, stirring often, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove to a small bowl to cool.
  3. Using a vegetable peeler, thinly slice the asparagus lengthwise into strips and place in a large bowl. (If you have trouble peeling the final portion of an asparagus spear, prop the spear up on the flat wooden handle of a spatula or spoon. This will raise it just high enough to allow the peeler to move freely.)
  4. Whisk the olive oil into the lemon-vinegar mixture in a thin and steady stream. Taste and season the dressing with salt and pepper as needed.
  5. Add the cooled pine nuts, dressing, half of the Parmesan, and all of the parsley to the asparagus and toss with your hands to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Let sit at least 10 minutes before serving. Serve topped with the remaining Parmesan cheese slices.

Pan Roasted Asparagus


2 tablespoons Peanut Oil
2 pounds thin Asparagus, trimmed
Kosher Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper
About 3 tablespoons unsalted Butter
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Coarse Sea Salt (Optional)


  1. Place the oil in a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat until it simmers. Add the asparagus, a handful at  a time, making sure the pan is always sizzling but never smoking.
  2. Add Kosher salt and pepper and reduce the heat to medium. Cook the asparagus, turning the stalks occasionally. When the pan begins to look dry, begin adding the butter a tablespoon at  a time.
  3. Cook the asparagus, continuing to turn the stalks, for about 10 minutes. Add the thyme and a little more salt and cook until the asparagus is tender, about 5 minutes more. Serve immediately sprinkled with sea salt if desired.

NOTE: If you are using thin, pencil asparagus, simply break off the bottoms and peel of any small leaves. For thicker asparagus, you will need to trim the tough ends and peel the woody stems.